An Imaginary Symbolic: From Piranesi to Disney

Dean MacCannell

in The Ethics of Sightseeing

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520257825
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948655 | DOI:
An Imaginary Symbolic: From Piranesi to Disney

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A formula for an imaginary tourist symbolic was devised by Giovanni Battista Piranesi in his Views of Rome, and continues to animate the program of fantasy-nostalgic places made for tourists using Piranesi/Disney design strategies. Piranesi is often said to be a paragon of objective representation. The 1759 view of the Piazza Popolo by Charles de Wailly was an impossibly elevated point of view using classical Renaissance perspective. Trajan's Column stands in the Forum of Trajan, but the statue on top is no longer Trajan's likeness. Disney and Piranesi give not just melodramatic architecture and architectural renderings, but also systems for constructing the tourist ego. The Piranesi/Disney symbolic strategy is the default approach in most tourist settings, in travel posters and brochures, in the tourist bubble, at themed malls, and in Disney parks. It also suppresses sightseeing ethics.

Keywords: imaginary tourist symbolic; Giovanni Battista Piranesi; Disney; Views of Rome; Charles de Wailly; Piazza Popolo; Trajan's Column; sightseeing ethics

Chapter.  3119 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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